An Identity Crisis Turned Into A Monumental Hip-Pop Album
Described by NPR as “a remarkable record [that] exposes the limitations of genre as a construct”, Jesse Markin releases his second album NOIR.
Finnish rapper-turned-singer-songwriter Jesse Markin has nurtured a reputation for universal excursions through indie-pop, rap, R&B, and African folk – a soundscape beyond any genre limitations. Following on from his award-winning debut album FOLK and latest singles Smokestack, Exodus and Hemostasis, he is set to release his second full-length, NOIR.
Hailing all the way from Viljakkala – a small all-white community village in Finland, Jesse is no stranger to feeling isolated. Growing up having attracted unwanted attention as a young black boy, he faced an identity crisis and sought comfort in things that reflected his internal battle.
He later spent years as a member of the hip-hop group, The Megaphone State, who produced three critically acclaimed hip-hop albums. Despite his love for rap, Jesse decided to embark on his solo career, developing his own sonic trademark; a seamless fusion of the sounds he loves from hip-hop to pop to prog rock.
It was coming to understand and unpick these experiences that became the central theme of his sophomore album. Crafted alongside producer Totte Rautiainen, NOIR is an introspective tour de force that combines every element of Jesse’s being, mentally, emotionally, and artistically.
With cathartic, gospel backing vocals and pensive lyrics relaying the existentialist tropes, Jesse has perfected the balance between light and dark; the euphoric moments and struggles of a self-defining pilgrimage. About the 12-tracker he says:
“I’ve been feeling like the only thing I can do at this point is to hold on to who I am. NOIR is a journey inside oneself where all boundaries are redefined. I wrote this album trying to understand the reasons behind my emotions and actions. What are the things that motivate me? What are the things that brought me here? Am I able to identify all the things others see in me? What makes a man? There are no right or wrong answers, just a road to the unknown where hopefully one becomes stronger and aware of the things that matter.”
Featuring the formidable voices of Terrell Hines and Akua Naru, NOIR is raw and empowering. Throughout the album, Jesse explores pain, perseverance, and placement in society, making this his most potent work to date.